A year ago, the Falcons had the same record as now: 7-5. The difference is that he was good enough to share the first place in the division with the Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the Saints were 5-7 (ahead of the Panthers 4-8) and headed for their third consecutive final 7-9 (and fourth 7-9 in five seasons).
And while the Falcons, at least as measured by their record, are not very different from last year's team at this point in the season, the Saints are almost unrecognizable. With 9-3, not only will they have their first winning season since 2013 (which is also the last time they reached the playoffs), but they are one of the most balanced and dynamic teams in the league. In recent years, any conversation about the success of the Saints began and ended with Drew Brees and the offense: the defense was a late occurrence.
From 2008 to 2013, Brees threw at least 5,000 yards four times and never averaged 38.2 touchdowns. In 2012, the Saints were 7-9, even with the ninth offense. The subject was a defense that occupied the last place, according to Football Outsiders. Things improved one season later – the offense was No. 5, the defense improved to 10th – and New Orleans won 11 games. But 2014 began the season of three seasons with seven wins due in large part to the lack of balance on both sides of the ball.
- 2014: offensive rank: 7th; defensive rank; 31st
- 2015: offensive rank: 7th; defensive rank; 32º
- 2016: offensive range: 6th; defensive rank; 31st
Which brings us to 2017. The Saints are the third best team in the NFL, just behind the Rams and the Eagles, according to Football Outsiders. The reason: the best offense in the league along with the defensive No. 11. (Strange how that works).
Deepening the offensive, it's not just about Brees. In fact, the Saints occupy the sixth position in offensive attack. It is their land offensive number 1 that has made the difference. Mark Ingram, who was sixth in total value among all the riders a season ago, is now the first. And, by chance, rookie Alvin Kamara is the first among the backs with less than 99 carries and is the runner that most catches visitors in the NFL. If a defense catches Brees on a day off, good luck stopping Ingram and Kamara.
Meanwhile, this is what the No. 31 defense did in the draft to improve: take cornerback Marshon Lattimore, safety Marcus Williams and defensive end Trey Hendrickson in the first three rounds. The three have been constructors of difference this season, although nothing more than Lattimore, who is already among the best young defensive players in the league. (The team also added Kamara and tackled Ryan Ramczyk in round 2, mentioned the impact of the previous one and the last one has started all 12 games and is the third offensive player for the Saints behind Kamara and Brees, according to Pro Football Focus. )
And those additions along with what defensive lineman Cam Jordan is perpetrating against the rest of the league gives you a much improved unit compared to last season. That's also why we like the Saints to prevail in a closed game.
Our prediction: Saints 28, Hawks 27
To read about the Falcons, who will receive the Saints on Thursday night,.
How to look, to transmit
- Kickoff: December 7, 8:25 p.m. ET
- TV: NFL Network
- Continuous streaming: fuboTV (Free trial)
Seriously, Cam Jordan is a MVP candidate
Jordan never did he would win but that has nothing to do with the numbers he has put this season and everything has to do with the fact that he does not play field marshal. Consider this: you are trying to achieve something so incredibly incredible that we can not remember anyone who has considered it before. "I'm trying to get this triple double," said Jordan, through Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, of his 10 sacks, 13 tackles for the loss and his 6-8 passes defended (based on who finally gets the credit for the win last Sunday on the Panthers).
"I'm trying to get the euro to move towards an NBA number," he said, adding, "I do not know a defensive end that is doing what I'm doing."
No wonder the defensive coordinator of the Saints, Dennis Allen, is a big fan.
"I think he's the best defensive end of the National Football League," Allen said. "I think many times people just take the statistics sheet or look at fancy football statistics, and all they want to see is, how many sacks does a man have?" But what Cam Jordan brings to the table is much more than that for us and for the defense.
"He is constantly a pressure player, plays relentlessly, plays a lot of plays. He plays the race and passes equally well. I just think about the defensive ends, I think you're in a hurry to find someone who is better than him. "
It's Color Rush Thursday (again), everyone!
Every Thursday is Color Rush Thursday in the NFL. You're welcome.
Here's what the Falcons and Saints will use:  color-rush-wk13-falcons-saints.jpg “data-lazy =” https: / /sportshub.cbsistatic.com/i/r/2017/12/06/1ba9bff0-ec91-4b3d-b50d-5da904c3dd6e/resize/670×377/281cecce8b6011be65935001367a9a38/color-rush-wk13-falcons-saints.jpg “src =” http: //www.cbssports.com/ “height =” 377 “width =” 670 “/>
Like last season, Color Rush will be a staple of Thursday night. Meanwhile, here is the color Rush uniform of each team from 2016.